Setting and Keeping Your Vacation Budget

Setting A Budget

We are on to Step 2 which is the most important step…. Setting your family vacation budget! Now that you have set your where and when, we get to look at how much this whole trip is going to cost. I am using our budget for Disney World to walk you through my thought process for budget setting.

Our plan for our Disney World  trip is set for July 1-July 7, 2018. Being an animal lover, we want to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge so that is our resort of choice. In the past, I have stayed at the Polynesian on the  concierge level which was a great benefit because they have a buffet of food and snacks all day long plus we had a better view from our room. Personally, it was worth the extra money. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, concierge level gives you the view of the Savannah with the animals which would put Danyella on cloud nine. This put us at $5525 for the week-long stay with access to food all day.

I did toy with the option of staying at the Polynesian again because of the access to the monorail which makes traveling between parks a lot easier with a baby.  At the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we will be utilizing the busses to get around. (Thank goodness for strollers and baby carriers!)

The next thing I added to our package was upgrading our Park Tickets to the Park Hopper with the water park option. It added more money to our overall cost but it is worth it because we will be going to different parks through the day so we have time to bring the baby back for naps and breaks. This put us at $5812 to add the Park Hopper option.

Something that was suggested to me from a yearly Disney World traveler, was to get the Memory Maker package because they will take better pictures then we will take. Her pictures proved it! So we added the $169 Memory Maker to the package which put us at $5981.

When I was at Disney, 15 years ago, there was no Dining Add-On Option for our vacation package so I consulted others that have been there and they all say that the Dining Plan was a must especially when you want to do the character meals. I got lots of tips on how to use this plan to get the best benefit out of it. Now add $1359 to our package price to make it $7340.

Onto our travel plans…. With an infant we are flying a direct flight from Philly to Orlando and using the free transport that Disney offers from the airport to the resort. This added $934 to our package. Plus I opted for the $155 travelers insurance just to be on the safe side. This put our Package total at $8429! Holy Cow!!

One of the nice thing about booking your trip through Disney, you can start with a deposit instead of paying for the whole trip up front. The deposit price includes the flights so that they are booked immediately. Our deposit for the trip is $1288 which is due immediately in order to book the trip and the balance is due on January 1st, 2018

For us, this will be our starting off point because we don’t have the $1288 just laying around the house but we will be finding ways to save this money. Yes, this will change our flights and possibly our price but we are not ones to use credit cards to charge things for entertainment purposes. Overall, with spending money our budget for this trip will end up being $10,000! Wowzers but this includes our travel, lodging and food which is the bulk of any trip. The rest will be just what we want to buy or spend money on!

Now it is your turn to get the budget in place for the major expenses: travel, lodging and food. If you destination doesn’t offer a package like Disney then you will need to make the package yourself. There are a ton of apps that can help if you choose to travel by car that will help with gas mileage and prices so you can add this to your budget. Then you can look and compare prices for the lodging to add that to your budget. The last big cost to include is your food. If you are renting a house in your destination, you can bring your own food and save a ton of money! There are so many ways to save on food if you look at what restaurants are in the area of your trip.

I hope this breakdown helps in your budget setting! Next week we will look into the savings jar and breaking your budget down to small goals. disney

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Turning 28 Weeks during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

Girl Meets Grill presents

Today, I turn 28 weeks and am officially in the Third Trimester but tomorrow is a somber day because it is October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is somber because I am one those women that have lost a baby that I never got to meet. I am 1 in 4.

It is so hard to really wrap my head around the fact that I am a statistic but I have had miscarriages in my first trimester and one in my second trimester. That moment when you just know something is wrong and the doctor confirms, the baby is no longer viable (able to continue to grow), is the one of the worst moments a woman can go through no matter if it is your first miscarriage or 4th.

My body is the type that responds to pregnancy almost immediately so I feel those symptoms very early. So when I have lost those babies, it was like losing a piece of my heart, especially with the 2nd trimester loss. That one, I went through morning sickness and cravings. I went for my routine ultrasound but when the tech became very quiet and went to get the doctor, I knew it was over. There was no heartbeat. I fell into a depression after that miscarriage which took a long time to recover from.

In January, I went through my last miscarriage which was not any easier but we agreed to try for another one. We tried for a couple of months but stress and life made doing the deed to make a baby less and less frequent so when I realized I was pregnant again we were both shocked but so happy. I still analyze every time I go to the bathroom that something could be wrong but everything with the baby has been great. We are now in our third trimester!

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Dry Skin Season is Coming

Spray and Style Hair Blog

 

It is that time of year where our skin begins to dry out, crack and just hurt no matter how much we drink water and try different lotions from your local store. Having a child with severe eczema, I had to experiment with different lotions and soaps to try and find some kind of relief for her, especially in the winter. Even the products labeled especially for eczema didn’t work for her.

So I began to make my own products for her so I knew exactly what was going in the products and on her skin. I came up with a formula for a hardened lotion made from coconut oil, olive oil, pure beeswax (not the candle stuff with additives for candle burning) and a few drops of essential oil. This formula has been magic for Danyella’s skin for many years now because it creates a barrier layer with the beeswax to protect it from further damage while healing the skin problems with the coconut oil and olive oil.

As friends and family, began to see her skin go from bleeding eczema patches to beautiful clear skin, they began to ask for their own Lotion Pop in different essential oil scents. I use a mold that is for cake pops but it makes it so much easier to glide the lotion pops across the skin with this design.

Right now I offer Lotion Pops in my online store Kaella Boutique in Lavender, Orange and Peppermint. The pops are 3 ozs each and come in a cute little box for storage. They also make great small gifts for people on your list this Holiday Season.  How many of you suffer from Dry Skin?

You can click on the pictures to be take to my online shop:

 

Cutest Pumpkin DIY Onesie

10Recently, a friend of mine gave me a box of baby clothes but it was taped so I had no idea what was inside of it. You should have seen my face when I discovered tons of new, white onesies because all I could think of was ideas to make them super cute for Evelynne. Now, I know that Evelynne won’t (or shouldn’t) be here in time to wear this for Halloween but I do have some friends with babies that I can give this as a gift.

If you have a baby they will look adorable in a onesie that Mommy or Daddy made. Or if you know someone that is having a baby in time for Halloween this will be a super cute idea to give as a gift.

What do you need? Super simple and easy supply list….

A onesie or t-shirt in the size you desire, sharpie markers in orange, green and brown, a piece of card and if you have clips they will help keep the onesie in place. Oh and don’t forget to print out the pumpkin stencil in this post.

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Step 1: Put the cardboard inside the onesie to help catch the marker bleeds, pull the cloth tight and clip (if you have clips). The tighter the onesie, the easier the markers will glide and less bleeding.

Step 2: Trace the Pumpkin Stencil with Pencil. This can seem difficult because of the grooves of the onesie but keep at it because it makes life easier to get your stencil down in pencil first.

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Step 3: Outline your pumpkin in brown and orange

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Step 4: Make your Pumpkin how you want. For my onesie, I used brown dots then colored the pumpkin in with orange lines and then added my words which I did free hand. You can use fabric paint or sequins to flash it up.

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Setting Your Family Vacation Place and Dates

 

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This week we are going to start breaking down my 5 steps that I highlighted in last week’s savings vacation post. So we are starting with Picking your place and dates to start your budget planning!

First and Foremost, get yourself a notebook designated just for your Family Vacation Planning. This is essential because you can take notes, write down your budget and keep your family on track for some vacation fun!

Time for a family vacation meeting! Grab your notebook and a calendar to get you started. If your kids are older, then gather everyone together to begin to discuss where you want to go and when everyone can go. This is the fun part of the planning!

Where do you want to go? The beach, a specific city, a historic site, Disney World, or another exciting place that your family is going to enjoy and cherish! The possibilities are endless! For my family, our first choice is Disney World. Having a 10-year-old little  big girl, this one is a No Brainer because she wants to experience to Happiest Place on Earth with all the Princesses she has fallen in love with over the years.

Next step is planning how long the trip would be. 5 day vacation, a week-long, 2 weeks or just a long weekend? The length of the trip should be considered with the budget because the longer the trip, the more money you will need for lodging, food and spending on the extras. We are looking at a week long vacation for our family.

Here comes the most difficult step for today’s post…. When is the vacation going to fit into your family’s schedule? Ok so this is the hardest part for my family between school, work and now dance schedules to try to figure out when we can all go to have a family vacation. Oh and don’t forget, we are awaiting for our baby girl’s arrival! This pretty much narrowed down our open months to July and August or Christmas Vacation. For my family, it is way out of our budget to plan a Christmas Vacation at Disney World so we are opting for July or August.

Once you have the destination and dates down, it is time to start pricing out your vacation. It is best to look as many different options when you are planning this part. I like to research different travel sites, hotels and other options before solidifying my plan. Another factor to consider is transportation, are you driving, flying or taking a train? This will go into your planning as well because flights need to be paid up front and booked as far in advance as you possibly can. After you research and have a set plan of whom you are booking your vacation through consider if you need a deposit or need to pay for the whole trip up front. All of this needs to be planned into your budget. I know when you book through Disney’s website, you need a deposit if the vacation is booked so many months in advance which is our best budget option.

These are factors to consider in your budget planning for your family vacation. Next week will get into the nitty gritty of budget planning for your family vacation so make sure to check back next Sunday!

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Rice Krispie Treat Monsters

Fun Halloween Rice Krispies Treatsfor Kids

For my brother’s memorial BBQ, my mom is always looking for something that Danyella and the couple of other girls her age can do to keep them busy while the adult talk and watch the football game. This year we found some fun Halloween games at Target. At Walmart, we came across Rice Krispies Treat Monsters that I figured the kids could decorate them and it would add to the dessert table.

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Looking at the box, everything was basically included but to make it easier on the kids and less mess for the parents, we opted to get the bottles of pre-made, pre-colored frosting instead of making the frosting from scratch with the stuff from the box. Also, we decided to get 2 boxes to make sure there was enough for all the kids to participate in the decorating fun.

Inside the box, there is Rice Krispies, marshmallows, a mold for the monsters, mix for the frosting, coloring for the frosting, bags for the frosting and brown sprinkles. The mold that is included in the box could make a mummy, Frankenstein or a vampire. I had Halloween cookie cutters in a coffin and pumpkin so it added to the variety. ‘

Making Rice Krispies Treats are pretty simple with the cereal, marshmallows and butter. I made those and molded them the morning of the BBQ so they had time to harden as the mold for the kids to decorate. Between the molds and cutters, the 2 boxes made 20 different Halloween figures. One tip is to make sure you spray the molds with PAM spray before you put the Rice Krispies in them so they come out with ease.

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Time for decorating….

The girls had a blast decorating their monsters, pumpkins and coffins! The only downfall was that we were in a heat wave (90+ degrees at the end of September), so the frosting was a little to liquid-y for stay on the monsters. The frosting was basically running off and into the nooks and crannies of the treats. Despite the frosting downfall, they came out super cute and we have to admire the creativity of a few 9 and 10-year-old girls.

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**This is not a paid or sponsored post but just my purchase and opinion of the item I feature in this post.

 

Setting Blog Goals

Setting Goals for your BlogWith everything else in my life, I set goals on what I want to accomplish and in what time frame I want to achieve these goals. Since deciding to take my blog to the next level in August, I have yet to write down goals for my blog. Today, I am changing that…

After seeing so many other bloggers talk about their monthly numbers and goals on their blogs, I decided to open myself up and talk about my numbers and goals. After seeing significant increase in my views after I started blogging everyday (almost everyday) and joined a Mom’s Blogging Tribe on Facebook, my biggest focus for September was increasing my views and social media followers for the month. 

Here is how my numbers compared from August to September

Blog Stats:

August Pageviews: 1.9k            September Pageviews: 2.4K

August Visitors: 1.4K                September Visitors: 1.5K

August Likes: 74                        September Likes: 63

August Comments: 176            September Comments: 172

August Most Popular Post: My Secret to Motivation

September Most Popular Post: French Toast Filled Roll Ups Recipe

Though some of my numbers, comments and likes, went down my overall vistors and pageviews went up which means more people are checking my blog out. This excites me! I have learned that my Feed Me Friday are extrememly popular followed by my savings posts and mom life posts (especially my tween mom posts!). It has helped me know what direction I want to take my blog in for the future.

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Social Media Numbers

August Instagram Followers: 466                          September Instagram Followers: 641

August Facebook Likes: 642                                    September Facebook Likes: 791

August Pinterest Followers: 453                            September Pinterest Followers: 538

August Pinterest Daily Viewers: 758                     September Pintersest Daily Viewers: 1022

August Twitter Followers: 2285                             September Twitter Followers: 2388

August Google Plus: 0                                               September Google Plus: 22

August Stumbleupon: 0                                           September Stumbleupon: 52

My established social media accounts all went up in followers/likes which was a huge goal of mine. I was really happy to see some of the numbers went up by 100 or more! I started to branch into other social media like google plus and stumbleupon, which every social media type is a lesson to learn on how to properly utilize it so I am still learning about Google Plus and Stumbleupon but I did gain some followers on both!

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Blog Income:

August WordAds: $.70                          September WordAds: TBD

I am still not sure how the WordAds on WordPress works and my September numbers are still not in but I will update this post once I do find out how much I made. I started with Amazon Affiliates and am still trying to find the best ways to incorporate awesome Amazon items into my blog posts.

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Here are my goals for October:

Blog Goals:

Mondays will alternate betweens Motivation posts and Mom Life posts. Tuesdays will be Halloween Teach Me crafts for kids and adults. Wednesdays (besides today) will feature gifts from my online Boutique. Thursdays will continue to be Thankful Thursdays and ways or things to be thankful for in our lives. Fridays will continue to be Feed Me Fridays. Saturdays will continue to update everyone on my Pregnancy and maternity life. Sundays will be ways to save for a family vacation.

I want to increase my views and vistors by at least 1000 for the month. I want to increase my likes and comments by 100. This is important for me to learn to drive the traffic to my blog so everyone can learn and be inspired by my posts.

Social Media Goals: 

My Instagram goal is to increase to 1000 followers which is a large increase of 359 followers! Same with my Facebook Likes, get 209 likes to reach 1000. The rest of my social media increase goals are to increase by 100. With Pinterest, I need to go through and polish my pins to include hashtags and descriptions. I will be researching how to utilize Google Plus and Stumbleupon to their full potential.

Income Goals: 

I have become so envious of other people and their sponsored posts so I am attempting to gain sponsorships for the lifestyle, especially once I have the baby, aspect of my blog. I would to bring to you the good and bad of products to use because you find new products on the market everyday. One thing I have learned with shopping for this baby, there is a million things on the market and reading about other people’s experiences help to make an informed decision for that precious little one in your life. Wish me luck!

I am still finding ways to increase my income and I am so thankful for the guidance of the Mom Bloggers Tribe because I would be so lost without their help and support. Each day is a growing experience and I can’t wait to grow with all of you!

If you are a blogger, I hope that this inspires your to set goals for your blog and watch your blog grow and blossom every month!